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Full text of "My country and my people"

THE   ARTISTIC   LIFE                   281
and architecture. In the lines and composition of Chinese painting and in the forms and structures of Chinese architecture, we shall be able to recognize the principles developed from Chinese calligraphy. These basic ideas of rhythm, form and atmosphere give the different lines of Chinese art, like poetry, painting, architecture, porcelain and house decorations, an essential unity of spirit.
III. PAINTING
Chinese painting, the flower of Chinese culture, is distinguished by a spirit and an atmosphere all its own, entirely different from Western painting. It is as different from Western painting as Chinese poetry is different from Western poetry. That difference is hard to grasp and express. It has a certain tone and atmosphere, visible in Western painting, but essentially different and achieved by different means. It shows a certain economy of material, marked by the many blank spaces, an idea of composition determined by its own harmony and marked by a certain "rhythmic vitality," and a boldness and freedom of the brush which impress the onlooker in an unforgettable manner. Somehow the picture before us has undergone an inner process of transformation in the artist's mind, shorn of its irrelevancies, its disharmonies, and giving us only a completely satisfying whole, so true to life and yet so different from it. The design is more obvious, the elimination of material more rigidly carried out, the points of contrast and concentration easier to trace, and we decidedly feel that the artist has interfered with the material reality and presented it to us only as it appears to him, without losing its essential likeness or intelligibility to others. It is subjective without the violent * assertions of the artist's ego in the modem Western painting, and without the latter's unintelligibility to us common men. It manages to achieve a decidedly subjective appearance of tilings without making contortions. It does not try to paint all before one's eyes, and it leaves a great deal to the onlooker's imagination, without degenerating into a geometric puzzle. Sometimes the concentration on the immediate object is so